Azim Premji varsity begins admissions

Azim Premji University, the state’s first private varsity focused solely on primary education, is all set to open its doors to students this summer.

Set up early last year, the university has begun to accept applications for three programmes -- MAs in education, development, and teacher education.

All three courses are two- year programmes, and will provide students training in pedagogy, education management, curriculum design, textbook design, examination assessment, and general education training. For the first batch, the University is looking to admit around 200 students.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Azim Premji Foundation co-CEO Anurag Behar said the programmes had been designed keeping in mind the kind of skills that are in short supply in the education sector. Behar says “The Azim Premji Foundation has been working in the field of primary education since 2000. The biggest problem in the sector is in finding qualified and trained personnel. So around 2006-07 we thought that since nobody was tackling this problem directly, we should do it ourselves”.

For students, Behar feels this is a field with promising careers in the private sector, multi-lateral organisations, NGOs, and even the government. “Take the case of government sector. Across India, we have massive shortage at nearly 600 District Institutes for Education Training (DIET). One estimate is that the shortage is around 32 per cent in all these institutes,” he says. There is also a huge demand in BEd colleges and universities for qualified teacher training faculty, he adds.

In the non-governmental sector, Behar says there is a severe lack of qualified personnel in the education and development sector. He also points that the Azim Premji Foundation was itself looking to hire 4000-5000 people over the next five years. Multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, and the United Nations, are also constantly in search of programme evaluators, he adds.

Behar says that the university will provide all necessary financial support to students who are from non-privileged backgrounds. “For those who need it, we will provide continuing support on English. And for people coming from small towns, we will also help them adjust to life in Bangalore”, he says.

Applications to Azim Premji University are currently out. Interested students will have to appear for a written examination in April, followed by an interview.

Behar also said that the Foundation plans to start a few schools in select districts for demonstration purposes. “We have identified a few districts, and in the next five years, we plan to start schools in these areas to demonstrate to our students, and for training resource persons at the districts such as the cluster resource personnel”, he said.

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